7 Tips for Successful Digital Procurement Adoption (2023)

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Running a successful business requires goods and services that aren’t possible to produce in-house. When done manually, this can get complicated and messy. This is why many companies are adopting new procurement and vendor management software, digital procurement processes, and technologies.

These technologies, known as digital procurement software (or e-procurement for short) help companies automate tasks and workflows to increase efficiency and foster beneficial vendor relationships by moving the entire process online.

What Is Digital Procurement?

Procurement is the process companies use to obtain goods and services vital to operations. This involves bidding, ordering, purchasing, invoicing, and interacting with suppliers and vendors.

Digital procurement brings all of these components into a centralized platform that takes care of record keeping, eliminates redundancies, and automates the menial aspects of the process. Digital procurement solutions often use AI to provide better sourcing suggestions and automate significant components of transactions.

This translates to fewer missed opportunities, better supplier relationships, and better business outcomes. It also poses significant benefits in risk management – better record keeping and minimized human error means you can be sure your processes are compliant.

Advantages of Implementing Digital Procurement Processes

Let’s discuss some of the major advantages of implementing the digital procurement process.

1. Cost savings

The most crucial advantage of implementing an e-procurement process for your company is affordability. For the most part, maintaining access to the software is relatively inexpensive. Digital procurement software stands on its own without the need for a full-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Moreover, e-procurement ensures continual cost savings by eliminating outdated or redundant tasks while streamlining operations. This way, employees can spend their valuable time taking care of other important tasks at hand.

2. Easy to use

Most digital procurement software are designed to be very user-friendly. The beauty of automation is that there is very little for individual employees to manage after the initial setup. If this isn’t the case, taking advantage of digital adoption platform that can help acclimate your team members to the new technology may also be useful. 

3. Reduces manual paperwork

Using paper for invoices and records might lead to the loss of information and time and increase the potential for error, which can be detrimental to vendor relationships and overall business. Digital procurement eliminates the need for physical paperwork in most cases, taking a huge weight off the shoulders of your procurement team. 

4. Increases employee productivity

By automating procurement-related tasks, your team members can devote time to more worthwhile tasks, experiencing a boost in efficiency and gaining meaningful experience while making the business operations more efficient. 

5. Enhances collaboration

Many e-procurement solutions include centralized communication tools. This means less back and forth and confusion, increasing efficiency and encouraging your employees to work together as a team. Enhanced collaboration also means more opportunities for collaboration with vendors to grow and strengthen relationships.

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Barriers to e-Procurement Implementation

No matter how fantastic the solution is, it is natural for employees to feel averse to big changes. Moving your entire procurement operation online can sound like a daunting endeavor, but there are some great ways for managers to break down common barriers to digital procurement implementation. 

1. Preference for legacy systems

Once employees are used to doing their job in a certain way, it can be very difficult for them to break free of old habits – even when the impending change is making their lives easier. It is important to make room for this sentiment when planning the rollout of your new system. Set realistic timelines for all updates and communicate the importance and benefits of the new system to enable effective change management within the company. 

2. The perceived expense of new technology

When shifting from doing things ‘the old-fashioned way’ to doing them completely online, the price tag of your new digital procurement software is likely to shock managers. This makes sense – it’s probably a big jump. You can reassure them that this jump in cost will be offset significantly by the savings and opportunities it will bring. 

3. Budget

More often than not, it’s difficult to find room in the annual budget for a big project like e-procurement implementation. However, being able to make the case for its benefits can make all the difference. Adding digital procurement to the list means removing other items that could be eating away at the bottom line. Find a way to demonstrate these benefits and savings to managers so they understand why it is worth fitting e-procurement into the budget. 

4. Security issues

With the rapid rise of digital procurement, concerns about security have also increased. Many digital procurement management tools have been created with the breach risks in mind and are designed to comply with certain regulations. It may take some additional legwork, but finding an e-procurement software that meets your organization’s security needs is more than likely possible. 

7 Tips for Driving Adoption of Digital Procurement Applications

Despite the digital transformation challenges, your change management team can overcome these barriers to digital procurement adoption with a few tactical strategies. 

1. Create a cross-department change team

While the procurement team might be most likely to use your e-procurement software, this change in operations will have a company-wide effect. Building a team of inter-department employees to develop a rollout plan will ensure that your implementation plan covers every base and satisfies the needs of various team members. 

2. Create personalized onboarding and training based on role

Employees in different roles will use this new software differently and might even use completely different features. This means the onboarding process must cater training directly to the needs of team members in different positions. 

While this may initially mean a bit of extra work, knowing that your employees are well-equipped to take full advantage of your e-procurement solution will ease anxieties down the line and result in a higher overall return on investment with high overall software adoption.

3. Invest in a DAP for in-app guidance

When implementing a new e-procurement solution, it will be critical to provide necessary training and support as employees get used to doing their jobs in a completely new way. Investing in a digital adoption platform (DAP) like Whatfix will improve the outcome of your digital procurement implementation by providing easy-to-use tools for in-app support. 

A DAP provides L&D and IT teams with the tools to create in-app guidance and on-demand help content with a no-code editor that lays directly on your S2P and procurement applications.

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This provides onboarding, training, and support for end-users via interactive walkthroughs, knowledge libraries, tooltips, task lists, and even feedback tools – everything your team needs to take advantage of the new solution. 

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4. Provide your employees with real-time performance support

Learning how to use new software can be difficult, especially for employees who have been around for many years. To boost digital procurement adoption, it is important to provide your employees with avenues for real-time support to make them feel secure, appreciated, and supported to work their way through the new system.

With a tool like Whatfix, teams can embed a self-help knowledge base directly into their procurement applications, allowing end-users to find help content and answers to common challenges and process questions.

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When using an S2P or digital procurement tool, employees must correctly input data and adhere to proper workflows to keep their data clean and to achieve ROI from their procurement system. With Whatfix, procurement leaders can create smart tips that remind end-users of mandatory fields they must update for orders, suppliers, and vendors.

You can see an example below of smart tip created with Whatfix that provides contextual information, at the moment of need, for end-users updating supplier orders.

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5. Keep employees updated on digital procurement implementation projects

It can be frustrating for employees to feel like they’re being dragged around as big changes are happening. Keeping team members in the loop as your e-procurement implementation project evolves could make all the difference in how they approach the change.

Provide regular communications to employees affected by the change, and ensure they have a clear avenue for support if they run into any issues during implementation.

6. Ask employees for feedback on the implementation

The best way to make sure your implementation plan is working is to solicit regular feedback on training efforts and their feelings about the digital procurement software itself. Addressing any issues that arise here will be critical to achieving a successful implementation and driving digital procurement adoption.

With Whatfix, organizations can gather end-user feedback from employees, suppliers, and vendors directly in their S2P and procurement applications and digital processes to understand and improve adoption, onboarding, and end-user support.

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7. Track application onboarding, feature adoption, and overall e-procurement adoption with analytics

In addition to asking for direct feedback, getting quantitative data that shows how the implementation is going is greatly helpful in ensuring success. Employing a digital adoption platform can help here by providing data analytics to clearly show user engagement with the new system and their adoption progress. Being able to see where team members are getting stuck while handling the new software, helps modify the training flows to make the adoption plan as successful as possible. 

With a DAP like Whatfix, organizations can capture user events to understand user adoption and understand:

  • How employees are engaging with new procurement applications.
  • What features or processes are not being adopted.
  • What help content and in-app guidance are working, what needs to be improved, and what new content should be created.
  • Where users are struggling (ie. identify friction points.)
  • How long it takes employees to become productive with new digital procurement processes.
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Accelerate Digital Procurement Adoption with Whatfix

Moving to digital procurement solutions can pose a variety of challenges for the company and its employees in terms of complete adoption and ultimate ROI. Implementing a digital adoption platform like Whatfix into your e-procurement rollout plan can help empower your company’s digital transformation by driving the adoption of e-procurement experiences.

DAPs provide procurement leaders with the ability to create in-app content that overlaps on top of procurement applications, such as interactive walkthroughs, step-by-step tutorials, task lists, smart tips, and embedded knowledge base. DAPs enable enterprise companies to improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance the user experience of their digital procurement applications.

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